Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Sydney - A wander around some neighbourhoods

Paddington Reservoir Gardens
Having had two months in New Zealand, we were back in Sydney, Australia. Regular readers with good memories may recall that we did spend a couple of days here before we went to Uluru, but I am writing about all of our time here now.

Sydney is one of those cities that everyone has heard of, perhaps because The Sydney Opera House is one of those iconic landmarks that everyone recognises. Add to that the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Bondi Beach, a host of bars and restaurants, and at least the perception of perpetual sunshine, and you have a city that features on most people's travel wishlist.

One of the things that we like about London, is that it is almost a series of small towns and villages, each of which have their own character. Some great, some not so great, but they all add to the diversity and flavour of the city. Sydney is very much like this too. There were some areas that we thought were lovely, and would return to time and again, and others that we could happily live without.

University of Sydney
Let's start with where we stayed, which was in hostels in the Kings Cross area. Now in London, Kings Cross used to be known for its prostitutes and drug addicts, but it has cleaned up its act these days. In Sydney, Kings Cross still has its share of sex shops, with the ladies in their fancy undies outside trying to tempt you in; you may feel slightly less tempted in the off peak hours, when the ladies generally seem to be rather older and more haggard looking. Don't be put off Kings Cross though, as this side of it is only small and is actually reasonably discreet, and the area has a nice relaxed feel to it, good transport, lots of hostels (or backpackers as they call them here) and decent places to go out.

Just to the west of Kings Cross, you can take one of the staircases down to the wonderfully named area of Woolloomooloo, which has a few places to eat, and leads on to the Royal Botanic Gardens and then to The Harbour area and Opera House. But we'll come back to that later.

South of Kings Cross takes you through Darlinghurst, which has a few nice cocktail bars, such as 'Eau de Vie' and 'Love Tilly Devine'. Whilst there are no particular 'attractions', is quite a pleasant walk through Darlinghurst, with plenty of places that you can stop off for a drink, and there are quite a few art galleries if that interests you.

From Darlinghurst you can continue walking on to Paddington, Newtown and Surrey Hills.

Paddington overall felt a little too smart for us. To continue with the London comparison, it felt a bit like a wannabe 'Chelsea', with too many fashionable boutiques and people trying to dress like off duty film stars. That said, there were a couple of good points. There was the rather charming
Paddington Reservoir Gardens, which is an old water reservoir that went out of use in 1899 and was transformed into a sunken garden in 2009. And then there is the Paddington Market, which is on every Saturday, and has many interesting stalls from lots of local artisans. I was tempted by many pieces, but restricted myself to a bright red ring made on a 3D printer, and a Sydney Opera House charm for my bracelet.

Our favourite area was Newtown. It had a far more down to earth feel, with great bars and interesting shops. Sadly, Holy Kitsch!, a shop that specialised in Day of the Dead style skulls of various forms, wasn't quite as good as we had hoped it would be. This was a good place to wander around, with some decent cafes and bars, including the deservedly very popular Brewtown Newtown - if you go, do try the doughnuts.

Surrey Hills was good too, again, quite a few decent cafes and bars. This was one of those areas that is good for people watching, with a good range of people coming in. It does feel a bit like an area in transition, like it may lose some of its more interesting side to a more uniformly upscale style; I do hope it doesn't, as it has a great mix at present.

White Rabbit Collection
One area that had promised quite a lot, but didn't really deliver, was Chippendale. It had sounded like it had some really interesting shops and galleries, but when we were there at least, there didn't seem to be that much. Perhaps we were just there at the wrong time, and the better places were closed. It was a pleasant enough area to wander around, and there was the White Rabbit Collection, an interesting gallery of Chinese Art, which had a lovely café with a great selection of teas, and some surprisingly good scones.

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